Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cell Phone Tree

I was leaving North Augusta this week, headed for Augusta. As I turned left onto Highway 25, I noticed this funny looking tree behind the Publix shopping center. It was very tall, and rather scraggly. It towered over everything, and its limbs were spaced widely apart. I did not remember seeing it there before.

As I drove closer to it, I realized that it was not a tree at all. It was a cell phone tower. No, my eyes are not so bad that I don’t know the difference. The reason I could not identify it sooner was because it was a cell phone tower disguised as a tree.

In an effort to make the tower seem more like part of the landscape, the company had made the pole look like bark and the receivers look like limbs. The result looks like a very out of place, very tall, unhealthy pine tree.

I was only fooled for a few seconds. The fact of the matter is, even though it was disguised, it was still a cell phone tower. I’m quite sure that the residents of North Augusta have mixed emotions about the cell tree.

The problem is that either way, the tower is not exactly appealing. I suppose the decision is the lesser of the two evils. Either you have an unattractive cell tower looming over the city, or you have an equally unattractive, bad imitation of a tree.

Personally, I would go for the former. This portion of North Augusta isn’t what I would call rural. There are stores, restaurants, power lines, and lots of traffic. I never noticed there was a cell tower there until they tried to make it look like a tree.

When I was a banker and still running as hard as I could from God, I had an interesting experience. I was at lunch in downtown Greenville. There are many people who work downtown that were dressed like me. I was wearing the standard suit and tie of a banker, and was surrounded by other businesspeople that were also waiting for lunch. A man, who was dressed very casually, came up to me and asked if I was a preacher.

I, of course, replied that I was not. He said “Are you sure?” I told him again that I was not a preacher. He then said “I’m sorry, you just look like one.”

I left there puzzled. Why on earth did he think I was a preacher? I was dressed like all the other businesspeople and I was not holding a Bible or anything that might look like one. Why did he say that? I wanted so badly to find him and ask “What made you think I was a preacher?”

After being a pastor for almost three years now, I understand. You see, I can wear whatever I want, I can put on any mask that I like, and I can try to behave like the world in order to fool them into thinking I’m like them. The truth is, that because I belong to God, others can see the difference, no matter how I try to hide it. I can try to disguise myself, like that cell phone tower, but others only see me trying to be something I’m not.

When we Christians do this, we are fooling nobody but ourselves. God knows who we are inside, and the world knows when we are behaving inconsistently with who we really are as children of God. Stop wasting the effort it takes to put on the disguise, and live your life in the fullness of Christ’s love. Just like the cell phone tower, the world may not like you any more or less, but at least you won’t be a poor imitation of something you are not.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

No comments: